Richard Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier” will close out the Metropolitan Opera’s current Live in HD series this weekend. The last of 10 operas aired this season to 2,000 movie screens in 70 countries, this production has been the subject of enormous interest, not so much for the overwhelming talent and beauty that it brings but rather for speculation over the future plans of the beloved star, soprano Renee Flemming.
A New York Times article intimated that the 58-year-old was retiring from opera entirely. Later it was suggested that she is merely retiring from certain roles, or perhaps from just the Met.
Whatever new direction the future may hold for the star, Strauss’ most popular work has been variously called “a Viennese treat” and “a bowl of whipped cream for opera-lovers.”
For purposes of the current Met production, the setting has been moved from the aristocratic world of Maria Theresa and 18th-century Austria to the year of the work’s composition, 1911, when Europe teeters on the eve of World War I. Modern munitions and trench warfare will soon utterly transform civilization.
In this tale of an oaf who seeks to marry a nubile young woman, Flemming is the aging aristocrat Marschallin, and Elina Garanca is her young lover, Octavian. Gunther Groissbock is the oafish Baron Oches, who seeks to wed the daughter of a munitions magnate, Sophie, sung by Erin Morley. The title is based on an aristocratic custom — presenting a silver rose to a bride-to-be.
While “Der Rosenkavalier” is a comedy, with the tale now set in 1911, the final image will brutally remind the audience that grim days lie ahead.
This season-ending telecast will start earlier than usual, at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, so Mary Keating’s Opera Chat is scheduled for noon at the Douglass Theatre.
Met: “Der Rosenkavalier”
When: 12:30 p.m. May 13
Where: Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., and the Galleria Mall Stadium Cinemas 15, 2980 Watson Blvd., Warner Robins
Cost: $24 adults, $20 seniors and students